Posted in Journal

The Process

woman-writing-a-book

Late last night, I came upon a group discussion about writing processes. Someone asked us to explain our process. The question was, how do you come up with and complete what you write? Mostly, I write Bible Studies so I will focus my answer on my process to write and deliver those messages… although writing this blog isn’t too different.

We are all unique and God gave us different passions and abilities and afforded us different opportunities to learn and develop. I do have a process that I believe is God-given and that I was taught very well years ago.

Some people can retain easily and can preach or teach easily based on the knowledge they have in their heads and hearts and/or as God speaks at that moment. I seem to be created just a little differently. Speaking is very hard for me and the only reason I can speak is that God called me to do so and He sets me on FIRE to speak what He gives. Delivering a message aloud was the one thing I said I would never do again as I left the University. I said NEVER! But God said otherwise, and He alone gives me the courage. I can only do it through Him and because I have learned to put onto paper in a precise and understandable way my thoughts and my studies.

Last night someone called their process total immersion and I would agree with that for myself. I become totally immersed. I take a subject and/or a passage of the Bible, and I get totally involved. I read it. I question it. I study it. I think of it. I read it again and again and again. I study some more and as I study, I learn. Then I write.

It usually starts with a Bible verse or passage I feel God is speaking through at that moment – to ME! I develop an idea based on that passage. Usually, I have a title at this point. I pray about where to go with the idea and write a preliminary outline. I take many notes – about 40-50 pages of notes and my own thoughts. Then I begin putting each note or thought into my outline (or discarding it). Then with the draft before me, I begin rewriting.

Does this sound kind of like the term papers and presentations of high school and college? For me, it is very close to that same process except I don’t have to rely on notecards and typewriters as we did in the “olden days” and these days I love and appreciate not only the subject matter but the process it takes for me to learn and teach it.

Sometimes the process is painstaking, but when I am writing on the Bible, I have God-given energy and drive and I don’t seem to get writer’s block. In speaking, I sometimes lose my thoughts though they may be on the outline in front of me. But, when writing about the Word of God, if I don’t know where to go next…I go to the Scripture and say what happened next and leave it there…until the Lord gives insight if He does.

The finished work is about 15 typewritten pages between 5,000 and 8,000 words.

Because I have other responsibilities, the entire process takes about a week and is never finished until the message is given. Why? Because I continually edit. When I say continually, I mean until I leave my office to give the message. I have been known to reprint an entire document because the spacing was a little off. Isn’t it strange that I would care so much when I am giving the message verbally? But I do care.

I believe anything I put on paper should have a flow and be grammatically correct, just in case someone happens to pick it up someday. I am obsessive about finding the right words to make the right impact and for every word to be spelled correctly. Mostly I want anyone who picks up the written message to come away understanding what is written and knowing that I love God’s Word and I have presented and preserved what He has entrusted to the best of the abilities He gave me.

Once I give a message, I file it away knowing I have an outlined and fairly well-written document that God may decide to use again someday.

Now you know my process. And of course don’t worry about the errors, I will go back and edit this MANY, MANY more times too. LOL!

Thoughtful Gifts

Back in the summer of 1985 Dan and I took our very first vacation as a couple. We went to Cape May, New Jersey to stay for a few days with his sister, Mary Ellen and her family. During that trip, Mary Ellen and I went to a little market full of unique shops. That is a very common thing now but back then it was new to me. One of the shops was a Christmas shop and there I found some Wizard of Oz ornaments that I bought for my mom. They had a special place on her tree until 1996 when my sister passed away and my mom stopped putting up a Christmas tree. She later gave away all of her Christmas ornaments and my sister-in-law asked for the Wizard of Oz ornaments. Of course, I wasn’t going to say no to that request because I didn’t want to be selfish…but honestly, I found that most years I wished I had.

This year my daughter came to my house insisting I receive my Christmas present early. My present was the exact ornaments I had given to my mom back in 1985. Meagan had not seen these ornaments since she was 10 years old, but she had researched and then searched on eBay for several years to find them. I was blown away, to say the least. I love gifts like this. These many years later it is not so much the ornaments themselves, but it is that my daughter would give me such a gift. It was a gift that was so thoughtful and took effort and showed such love and care for me. I admit I don’t feel that I am often that kind of gift giver…but it touched my heart in an incredible way when I was on the receiving end. And receiving that gift made me so thankful that all those years before I had allowed my sister-in-law the originals.

Sometimes when we release things that are temporal, we make room for gifts that will last forever!

And then it dawned on me that I received mostly very thoughtful gifts this year in addition to that one. A beautiful necklace from a friend that meant so much because of the Word/words etched upon it; wool socks and cinnamon candy canes from my son because he knows I love these things; a notebook and pencil from the GKiddles so I can do my work; a beautiful mug (I do love my coffee); two identical antique Tiffany table lamps that were a heirloom to a relative’s family but no longer wanted, and a ripped up picture of my dad’s company when he graduated from boot camp at the age of 16… along with a letter from the Lieutenant Commander of the Navy to my grandparents that was so personal.

Then there is the most thoughtful gift of all and that is the gift given by our Father when He sent His Son, Jesus, to be born. To be born to die on an old rugged cross for my sins. He sent His Son and He sent me (and you) a Savior.

I pray that in this next season I can take a lesson from my family and friends and from my Heavenly Father and be more thoughtful and deliberate in my giving. Love you all and God bless you!

Posted in Hiding His Word

Thy Word Have I Hid in My Heart – James 4:7

“The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” ~ John‬ ‭10:10‬

Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” ~ Romans‬ ‭8:37-39‬

“Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” ~ James‬ ‭4:7‬

Submit – to give over or yield to the power or authority of another.

Resist –  to withstand, strive against, or oppose; to refrain or abstain from, especially with difficulty or reluctance.

When I align my will with God’s will, I will be unstoppable. Will I have temptations and trials? YES! But temptations and trials won’t stop me!

I have a free will and can do what I want and that might seem good for a season. But, it is only when I DECIDE to cast away doubt and fear, and use my free will to choose His will; use my free will to decide to obey the Word; decide to have faith in His plan and not my own that I will overcome. It is only when I make the decision to praise my way out of doubt, pray rather than worry, and follow Jesus instead of trying to lead Jesus where l want to go that l will see true peace, joy, and victory.

The battle is real and the demons that seek to destroy are real but I have found that many times I have become an ally in my own battle. Because of that, the first step is to cast down and crucify my own free will and then follow the Word of God and His plan for victory over the demons. His plan – submit to God and resist the devil. God’s promise if l do is that the enemy will flee! Daily l must submit and resist. Daily I must fight.

Help me today, Lord!!!